Comporium Inc. partners with Watt Family Innovation Center

The Watt Family Innovation Center

The Watt Family Innovation Center

An innovative South Carolina-based telecommunications company is partnering with the new Watt Family Innovation Center to transform student lives and campus academics. Comporium Inc. has pledged $3 million in financial support and in-kind products and services to the Watt Center and will be a Founding Innovation Partner in the new facility that fosters collaborative research activities, product use and demonstration, and philanthropic support.
“It is wonderful to have another South Carolina-based company on board as a Founding Innovation Partner for this incredible facility,” said President Clements. “Comporium is a world-class leader in telecommunications, and I am grateful for their support.”
Headquartered in Rock Hill, Comporium Inc. is a diversified telecommunications company that embraces innovation to provide voice, video, data, wireless and security products and services. Clemson’s faculty, staff and students historically have collaborated and partnered with Comporium in academic and research areas related to a wide spectrum of interest and business operations. This new relationship centers on a multi-faceted engagement that includes philanthropic support of students, faculty, equipment and operations in the new center.
“Comporium sees a great value in educating students in real-world collaboration to take a technologically advanced idea to the development of a practical application,” said Comporium President and CEO Bryant Barnes ’76. “We believe that the center’s role in fostering entrepreneurship and leadership with an emphasis in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) will serve the citizens of South Carolina. The Watt Center enables the connectivity of the Technology Incubator at Knowledge Park in Rock Hill and others to this network.”
Charles Watt, executive director of the Watt Center, said, “We are excited that Comporium has joined our elite level of Founding Innovation Partners. It is an outstanding family-owned company with corporate operations in Rock Hill.
“Since its original chartering in 1894, it has embraced delivery of innovative products and services that are provided in its telephones, data centers and connected security systems. The company has received numerous national, state, county and local awards for excellence in the telecommunications industry and for its contributions to academic and community activities in South Carolina.”
The Comporium gift is part of the $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign.
For more about the Watt Family Innovation Center, see the feature story in this CW Spring 2016.

Leadership Circle Brunch

Leadership circleMembers of the Leadership Circle came together on Saturday, January 16, in Greenville at a brunch of celebration and appreciation. The Leadership Circle was created in 2009, and since that time 7.6 million in unrestricted dollars have been given to the University administration to address critical needs and opportunities. President Clements addressed the members, as did two students, April Seiler and Jarret Miller, who expressed their appreciation for how these gifts have made a difference in their educations and their lives.

Fort Hill Clemson Club builds endowment for Upstate students

The Fort Hill Clemson Club presents a check to Associate Vice President of Advancement Brian O'Rourke. From left: Brian O'Rourke, Larry Sloan, Flecther Anderson, Jim Douglas, Gregg Cooley.

The Fort Hill Clemson Club presents a check to Associate Vice President of Advancement Brian O’Rourke. From left: Brian O’Rourke, Larry Sloan, Flecther Anderson, Jim Douglas, Gregg Cooley.

Every year, the Fort Hill Clemson Club, with about 100 members, puts on a major event, the annual Recruiting Wrap Up, held just as football recruiting ends. They sell tickets, find sponsors, get the coaches and players on the program, and serve lots of barbecue.
It’s hard work but also enables the club to raise a substantial amount of money. When the decision for how to invest that money had to be made, the club took its cues from none other than Clemson’s founder and namesake. They decided to establish an endowment to provide scholarships for students from Pickens and Oconee counties.
“Thomas Green Clemson could have done a lot of things with his wealth that could have made a great immediate impact — maybe a bigger splash that would have given him more recognition,”
said club president Fletcher Anderson. “But he planned it in a way that would make an impact for the long run, and that influenced our thinking.”
Recently, on behalf of the club, Anderson presented a $50,000 check to Clemson for the scholarship endowment. The club funds annual scholarships as well.
“As I see it,” says Anderson, “the club will just continue to work to raise our endowment until our annual scholarships have all been replaced with endowed scholarships. Within 20 years, we may have a million dollar-plus endowment.”
The endowment is part of the Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign.
For more information about how your club or organization can set up an endowment, contact Bubba Britton at

The power of partnerships

Professor Sandra Linder (standing) is helping lead the program to provide childcare teachers and home-based caregivers with skills that support mathematics learning among young children.

Professor Sandra Linder (standing) is helping lead the program to provide childcare teachers and home-based caregivers with skills that support mathematics learning among young children.

Support for developing math skills, simulation software for automotive engineering and a state-of-the-art digital press may not seem to have a lot in common. But all three of these will be pivotal in educating Clemson students for the future. And they’re all the results of gifts from corporations and foundations that are valuable partners with the University.
The PNC Foundation and the Eugene T. Moore School of Education agree that it’s never too early to develop math skills. The PNC Foundation has awarded Project BEEMS (Building Environments for Early Mathematics Success) a $50,000 grant to support the program that supports mathematics learning among young children across the state and nation.
The first year of Project BEEMS, also funded by the PNC Foundation, took place in 12 Head Start centers and showed very positive results. Forming an early mathematical understanding can be particularly helpful in establishing problem-solving and communication skills, according to Sandra Linder, project director and associate professor of early childhood mathematics education.
“The project is part of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education’s continuing focus on systematically improving education and an example of the school’s commitment to underserved communities,” said Dean George J. Petersen. “We are proud and thankful to be partnering with the PNC Foundation on this project.”
When graphic communications and packaging science students return to campus this fall, they’ll find an HP Indigo 5000 Digital Press in place and ready to use, thanks to a gift valued at $505,825 from Hewlett Packard. More than 600 students, many of whom will receive industry certification, will have hands-on experience using the press each year.
As growth opportunities in the digital print market shift from commercial printing to packaging, the need for talent also shifts. Clemson is uniquely positioned to work closely with HP Indigo to develop a pipeline of capable talent and meet the needs of industry. Having hands-on experience using the HP Indigo gives Clemson students invaluable access to a growing market segment through internship and career opportunities.
Professor Srikanth Pila demonstrates to his graduate students how the Moldex software further enhances research in his lab at CU-ICAR.

Professor Srikanth Pila demonstrates to his graduate students how the Moldex software further enhances research in his lab at CU-ICAR.

A $1.625 million gift from Moldex3D to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research will both provide students with valuable hands-on-experience in computer-aided engineering (CAE) software and advance faculty research, particularly in the area of injection molding.
Anthony Yang, president of Moldex3D Northern America, said it is their responsibility to assist the academic world in nurturing the next generation by offering its state-of-the-art simulation technologies and resources. “As the world’s largest independent CAE software developer, we are truly pleased for the opportunity to partner with Clemson University, which has one of the most elite automotive engineering programs in the world, to help students gain more practical hands-on CAE experiences and further equip them with a viable simulation ability to compete in the future job market,” he said.
All three of these gifts are part of the Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign.


“First Lady of Clemson Athletics” makes Cornerstone gift

April 10, 2015 - The 2nd Cornerstone Gift Announcement was held at during the Board of Trustees Luncheon at the Madren Center with Betty  Poe 's gift of $2.5 million. This will be a Cornerstone Partner for Clemson Athletics.

Betty Poe (center) with (l-4) trustees David WIlkins and Smyth McKissick III, Dabo Swinney and President Clements

Longtime Clemson supporter Betty Poe of Greenville might not be a Clemson alumna, but you’d never know it. She knows what being a member of the Clemson Family is about, and her volunteer efforts and gifts are evidence of that.
This spring, she made the second Cornerstone gift of $2.5 million to Clemson Athletics for facilities. Cornerstone gifts are a vital part of the new athletics facilities initiative, which includes new facilities, upgrades or rebuilds planned for football, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer and Vickery Hall, the most comprehensive change ever undertaken at Clemson.
A retired insurance executive, Poe served as co-chair of the leadership phase of the Will To Lead campaign and on the foundation board at Clemson, following in the footsteps of her husband Billy in commitment to his alma mater.
With this gift, her lifelong giving has eclipsed $5 million, in appreciation for which she will be inducted into Clemson’s Trustee Oak Society. She has supported facilities such as Memorial Stadium’s Poe Plaza and student entrance gate and was a founding partner of the Barker Scholars initiative. She also served on the WestZone capital committee, leading the effort to raise funds for the football stadium expansion.
Poe made her latest gift in honor of head football coach Dabo Swinney and his staff and in memory of her late husband, Billy “Tweet” Poe, a football letterman for legendary coach Frank Howard at Clemson in 1944-46. He was drafted into the Army and, after serving his country with distinction, returned to Clemson to finish his degree.
“Betty has long been a tremendous supporter of our athletic programs here at Clemson, and her recent commitment to become a Cornerstone Partner solidifies her place as the First Lady for Clemson Athletics,” IPTAY CEO Davis Babb said. “She has graciously donated not only her support but also her time as she has taken a leadership role in every athletics and IPTAY initiative we have embarked upon.”
This Cornerstone gift is part of the Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.

Zucker Family Graduate Education Center to bring engineering education to Charleston

Laura Zucker, Anita Zucker and President Clements in front of Jonathan Zucker at the ground breaking.

Laura Zucker, Anita Zucker and President Clements in front of Jonathan Zucker at the ground breaking.

It wasn’t your typical groundbreaking, but Jonathan Zucker certainly broke ground with a giant black and yellow excavator, marking the official beginning of construction of the $21.5-million Zucker Family Graduate Education Center in North Charleston.
Located at the Clemson University Restoration Institute on the site of the former naval shipyard, the approximately 70,000- square-foot center will offer master’s and Ph.D. degrees in engineering when its doors open in 2016. The center is expected to grow to accommodate approximately 200 students, filling a critical need for engineers for corporations such as Duke Energy, where 60 percent of its engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.
President Clements joined Anita, Jonathan and Laura Zucker for the ceremony that was attended by more than 75 Charleston County School District middle school STEM students. As Clements spoke to the students through a bullhorn while standing next to the excavator, he said, [pullquote]“Here we have the Hunley submarine in the Warren Lasch Conservation Center — that focuses on our past. Over there we have the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center — that deals with the present. And today we break ground on the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, and that’s all about the future.”[/pullquote]
Upon completion, the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will serve as the academic anchor in the CURI applied technology park. In addition to students and faculty, office space in the center will be leased to industry looking to engage with faculty, students and researchers.
Long-time Clemson supporters, Anita Zucker and Jonathan Zucker helped fund the center that will bear their family’s name. Anita Zucker explained why she wanted to help make this center possible. “I’m passionate about STEM. I’m passionate about education. And I’m passionate about our region and what’s happening here,” she said. “For years our business community has complained that we don’t have enough graduate-level courses in engineering. Well, I feel like that call will finally be answered with this new center.”
The Zucker family gift is part of the $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.

The Will to Lead Executive Committee, 2014-2016

WTL_Revised_LogoPhilip H. Prince ’49, HD ’95, Honorary Chair
E. Smyth McKissick III ’79, Chair
Kelly C. Davies ’86, Co-Vice Chair
Richard “Rich” Davies ’86, Co-Vice Chair
James F. Barker ’70
Marcia Barker HA ’01
James E. Bostic Jr. ’69, Ph.D. ’72
Jan E. Childress
James P. Clements
James P. Creel Sr. ’60
Carolyn Creel ’61
Bill Hendrix ’63, M ’68
Robert “Bobby” McCormick ’72, M ’74
Mark Mitchell M ’83, Ph.D. ’87
Michael Dean Perry ’05
Betty Sheppard Poe HA ’10
Mark S. Richardson ’83
Kenneth L. Smith ’81
Joseph J. Turner Jr. ’71, M ’77

The Clemson Medallion

In October, trustee Ellison Smyth McKissick III of Greenville and retired professor Jerome V. Reel Jr. of Clemson were awarded the Thomas Green Clemson Medallion, the University’s highest public honor. The medallion is awarded to those members of the Clemson Family whose dedication and service embody the spirit of the University’s founder.
“These two gentlemen each have devoted decades of their lives to Clemson and its faculty, staff and students,” said President James P. Clements. “Clemson would not be the university it is today without their hard work and leadership. It is a great honor to recognize them for their dedication, exceptional example and continuing impact.”


Smyth McKissick’s father was a great believer in an honest day’s work and admired hard-working people. The younger McKissick learned this lesson well and began work at age 16 in the spinning room of his family’s textile company, Alice Manufacturing.
McKissick entered Clemson in 1975 to study business, then went on to the University of South Carolina for an MBA in 1981. He characterizes his time at Clemson as a life-changing experience, and says he “grew up” in Sirrine Hall. He then returned home and to Alice Manufacturing, where he had the pleasure of learning and working alongside his father.
Soon after his father’s death in 1998, he took the reins as president and CEO, knowing the company needed to transform its business model to survive the many changes in the U.S. textile industry. He credits the success of his family’s business and its re-creation to the dedicated people within the company.
The McKissick philosophy of hard work is evident in his involvement and investment in Clemson. A successor member of the Board of Trustees since 1998, he has chaired or served on almost every board committee, including the search committees for Clemson’s 14th president, James F. Barker, and 15th president, James P. Clements.
An IPTAY member, McKissick supported the WestZone initiative; served as Clemson University Foundation director; is a member of the Thomas Green Clemson Cumulative Giving Society; and is a charter member of the President’s Leadership Circle. McKissick chairs the University’s $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign, the largest fundraising initiative in Clemson’s history. In 2012, he received the Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
McKissick has served as a leader in numerous textile industry organizations and is an active member of Christ Church Episcopal. He and his wife, Martha, live in Greenville and have three children, Smyth, Holly ’13 and Caroline.


Clemson University historian since 2002, Jerry Reel has quite a history with the University. His career at Clemson went from potentially short-lived to honored professor and academic leader for 50 years.
The New Orleans native began putting down his roots in Clemson in 1963, when he joined the faculty while still finishing up his Ph.D. in British medieval history at Emory University. His plan was to stay long enough to finish his research, but he never left.
Reel began as an instructor, advanced to assistant and associate professor, and was named professor of history in 1971. He worked with student groups including Tiger Brotherhood, Blue Key, Golden Key, Omicron Delta Kappa and Order of Omega. He served as adviser to Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for more than 25 years.
Reel served as dean of undergraduate studies, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies, and senior vice provost. He was named professor emeritus in 2003 and was honored with the Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2011.
For decades, students filled his “History 101 ­— History of Clemson” course in which he indoctrinated generations with stories of the families who founded the University and the leaders who presided over it. Reel is the author and co-author of several books on Clemson history.
Reel is a member of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, and past president of the National Opera Association and the national Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He is active in Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder.
Students nominated Reel as an Alumni Master Teacher in 1975. Friends and former students honored him in 2009 with the establishment of the Jerome V. Reel Jr. Endowed Scholarship. Reel has direct Tiger “orange bloodlines” throughout his family. His wife, Edmeé, holds a master’s degree, and all three of his children and their spouses are alumni. One grandson is a current student.